AP News in Brief at 12: 04 a.m. EDT.
Trump’s trip: Conventional images and unconventional talk
TAORMINA, Sicily (AP) — As he dashed through the Middle East and Europe, Donald Trump looked like a conventional American leader abroad. He solemnly laid a wreath at a Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, had an audience with the pope at the Vatican and stood center stage with Western allies at the annual summits that dominate the diplomatic calendar.
But when Trump spoke, he sounded like anything but a typical U. S. president.
On his first overseas tour, the new president made no attempt to publicly promote democracy and human rights in Saudi Arabia, instead declaring that he wasn’t there to lecture. In Israel and the West Bank, he pointedly did not back America’s long-standing support for a two-state solution to the intractable peace process. And in the heart of Europe, Trump berated NATO allies over their financial commitments and would not explicitly endorse the “one for all, all for one” defense doctrine that has been the cornerstone of trans-Atlantic security for decades.
To the White House, Trump’s first trip abroad was an embodiment of the promises he made as a candidate to put America’s interests first and break through the guardrails that have long defined U. S. foreign policy. Trump advisers repeatedly described the trip as historic and groundbreaking, including one senior official who brashly said without evidence that Trump had “united the entire Muslim world.”
Addressing U. S. troops Saturday at a Sicilian air base moments before departing for Washington, Trump himself declared: “I think we hit a home run.”
AP source: Kushner back channel with Russia involved Syria
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and now top White House adviser Jared Kushner proposed a secret back channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team during a December meeting with a leading Russian diplomat.
Kushner spoke with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about creating that line of communication to facilitate sensitive discussions aimed at exploring the incoming administration’s options with Russia as it was developing its Syria policy, according to a person familiar with the discussions who spoke with The Associated Press.
The intent was to connect Trump’s chief national security adviser at the time, Michael Flynn, with Russian military leaders, said this person, who wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss private policy deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Russia, a pivotal player in Syria, has backed Syrian President Bashar Assad, often at the expense of civilians during a long civil war.
The White House did not acknowledge the meeting or Kushner’s attendance until March. At the time, a White House official dismissed it as a brief courtesy meeting.
Rocker Gregg Allman dies at age 69; sang and lived the blues
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Gregg Allman, a survivor of tragedy, knew the blues musically and in a painfully personal way.
Raised by a single mother after his father was shot to death, he idolized his guitar-slinging older brother Duane and became his musical partner. They formed the nucleus of The Allman Brothers Band, which helped define the Southern rock sound of the 1970s.
Their songs such as “Whipping Post, ” ”Ramblin’ Man” and “Midnight Rider” laid the foundation for the genre and opened the doors for groups like Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band.
Gregg Allman, whose bluesy vocals and soulful touch on the Hammond B-3 organ helped propel the Allman Brothers Band to superstardom, died Saturday. He was 69.
Allman died peacefully and surrounded by loved ones at his home near Savannah, Georgia, his manager, Michael Lehman, told The Associated Press. He blamed cancer for Allman’s death.
UK police show photo of concert bomber, ask public for info
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — British police on Saturday released surveillance-camera images of the Manchester concert bomber on the night of the attack as they appealed for more information about his final days.
Authorities said they had made major progress in unravelling the plot behind the concert bombing but acknowledged there were still gaps in their knowledge.
Britain reduced its terrorism threat level a notch Saturday, from “critical” to “severe, ” yet security remained high as jittery residents tried to enjoy a long holiday weekend. Armed police officers and soldiers were deployed at soccer matches, concerts and other big events.
Abedi, a 22-year-old Briton of Libyan descent, died in Monday’s explosion, which killed 22 others and wounded nearly 120 as crowds were leaving an Ariana Grande concert.
The photos released by police show attacker Salman Abedi on the night of the bombing, wearing sneakers, jeans, a dark jacket and a baseball cap. The straps of a knapsack are visible on his shoulders.
BA outage creates London travel chaos; power issue blamed
LONDON (AP) — British Airways canceled all flights from London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U. K. holiday weekend.
The airline said it was suffering a “major IT systems failure” around the world. Chief executive Alex Cruz said “we believe the root cause was a power-supply issue and we have no evidence of any cyberattack.”
He said the crash had affected “all of our check-in and operational systems.”
BA operates hundreds of flights from the two London airports on a typical day — and both are major hubs for worldwide travel.
Several hours after problems began cropping up Saturday morning, BA suspended flights up to 6 p.m. because the two airports had become severely congested. The airline later scrapped flights from Heathrow and Gatwick for the rest of the day.
Mayor: ‘Heroes’ died protecting women from anti-Muslim rant
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Police said Saturday they’ll examine what appears to be the extremist ideology of an Oregon man accused of fatally stabbing two men who tried to intervene when the suspect yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim on a Portland light-rail train.
The attack Friday happened on the first day of Ramadan, the holiest time of the year for Muslims, and it sent shockwaves through a city that prides itself on its tolerance and liberal views. A memorial where the stabbing occurred grew steadily Saturday, and a vigil was planned.
“That people feel emboldened to come out and show their racism and bigotry in that way is horrifying to me. It’s a gut check for everywhere — and absolutely for Portland, ” said Christopher Douglas, who stopped at the memorial. “Portland … floats in a little bit of a bubble of its own liberal comfort and I think the reality is sinking in.”
Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, was being held in the Multnomah County Jail on suspicion of aggravated murder, attempted murder, intimidation and being a felon in possession of a weapon. He was arrested a short time after the attack on Friday.
He will make a first court appearance Tuesday, and it wasn’t clear if he had an attorney. A phone at his home in Portland rang unanswered Saturday, and no one came to the door at his parents’ home.
Family, friends hail men who died trying to stop attack
PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) — Helpful co-workers. Reliable friends. Well-liked by many who encountered them.
Those were the descriptions family, friends and colleagues gave of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, and Rick Best, 53, the two men who were stabbed to death Friday when they tried to intervene when a man yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim on a Portland light-rail train.
AP News in Brief at 12: 04 a.m. EDT
AP News in Brief at 12: 04 a.m. EDT.